Fortieth Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
April 6, 1870.
Elder Orson Pratt addressed the Conference. Forty years ago God organized His Church. It has not been sustained by human wisdom but by the power of God who is its Author. On the day when the Church was organized God gave many instructions relative to the duties of its officers. The Lord continued to give line upon line and precept upon precept. The command for the Saints to assemble together in conference, at stated intervals, wherever the Church was organized, came direct from the Almighty.
When it became necessary to build a Temple the plan was not devised by man’s wisdom, but the Lord commanded that three men should be selected, unto whom the plan of the Temple would be shown, and it was done as directed and the Temple was erected according to the pattern given. The ordinances which were administered in the Temple were given by direct revelation. As the Elders went forth and declared unto the people, in the surrounding country, what the Lord was doing, persecution arose. The Saints were driven from place to place and despoiled of their property. Their persecutors had not polygamy then to plead as an excuse for their course; the reasons stated by them were that the Saints professed to have revelations from God, that they believed in the laying on of hands and anointing with oil for the healing of the sick; and another great objection urged was that the Latter-day Saints were too united. In the various parts where the Saints located and from which they were so ruthlessly driven, they petitioned the State authorities and laid before them their grievances, some of whom listened respectfully and others treated the matter with contempt. After we had been driven from Jackson county, Missouri, our steps were directed towards the West, and whilst we were out on the prairies a deputation was sent to inform us that we were required to furnish five hundred men to fight the battles of the country in Mexico; and although the circumstances under which the request was made were so peculiarly disadvantageous to the Saints, yet the quota of men was furnished.
When we came here we brought polygamy with us. It is an eternal part of our religion, and we will never relinquish it. We love the glorious principles we have received better than we do our homes, better than we do our lives. When compared with our hopes of eternal exaltation life is as nothing. When the Government granted to us, as a community, our present civil rights and government they were perfectly aware that we were a polygamous people. When the homestead law was extended to us it was well known that we believed in and practiced plural marriage. When the homestead law was made applicable to the people of this Territory we went forth in good faith and paid our money for our land, and we are now coolly informed that we shall not be permitted to possess these lands that we have pre-empted, cultivated and paid for. Is this just?
It is not, in the province of Congress to say what portion of the Bible we shall or shall not believe in. Should the bill, which has just passed the House of Representatives, become law, then alas! for the liberty of our common country. The enjoining or compulsory enforcement of the monogamic law is one of the “twin relics of barbarism.”
May the Lord bless us. Amen.
[Deseret News, Apr. 13, 1870]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]